The Himalayas have answers for all
our my questions. As I have so many questions, I need to climb the Himalayas again and again. The loop is infinite. This time I was on my way to the Pangi Valley, with my permanent riding partner JP. A ride across the Pangi Valley was our long cherished dream and it took us more than two years to accomplish this goal. It took us 7 days to complete this journey and the day one, as usual, started with minor hiccups that could have resulted in fatal injuries had they not been detected in time.
A bee stung me on my upper lip resulting in a disheveled physical appearance. I had to apply sudden brakes which resulted in malfunctioning of the rear tire. Fortunately, we did not bang against any speeding truck and unfortunately it took us more than 6 hours to cover 80 kilometers on a straight highway. We got the motorbike repaired in Manali which actually worsened the condition of the bike.
I am going to skip the reaching Manali part because that is not important.
The good part of the journey was that tourists were allowed only to create havoc in Marhi and not beyond that. Tourist vehicles were not allowed to go beyond Marhi and that meant no traffic trouble. The roads were clean, the snow walls were not as high as they were in the last month, when I walked over the Rohtang Top on foot. The Rohtang Top was deserted. There were only five people at the top and it appeared as if the Rohtang Top has regained its serenity, which eventually would be lost within couple of weeks. The snow walls were as high as 30 feet at places and the pillion rider could not help standing on the running motorcycle. Reaching Keylong was just a matter of one hour but then the motorcycle failed us again. The snowfall had started and the deserted look of the Rohtang Top started to haunt us. The milestone said Koksar – 15km and dragging a 180kg monster in heavy snow is not an easy thing. Keylong was still a far fetched dream because we did not know what was wrong with the motorcycle. And unless you know what’s wrong you cannot propose a solution.
Anyhow, it started on its own just the way it stopped in its own. Guess, it was air filter problem. According to my limited knowledge, motorbike air filters do not extract sufficient oxygen from atmosphere at high altitudes and the machine stops working. It can easily be rectified by taking out the air filter but when it is snowing you better keep moving.
Run, Walk, or Crawl but just keep moving was our motto. So the plan was changed now. Reaching Udaipur was no more an option, so we had to stay back in Keylong itself. The guest house too was deserted and we were the only occupants. Next morning the rising sun looked amazingly beautiful and the golden yellow sun-rays knocked on our eyelids gently to wake us up. Name of the guest house was Mount Meru and it stood facing the giant mountain covered with snow. I am not sure if Mount Meru was name of the same mountain or not. After a golden sunshine morning, bad news was bound to follow. The petrol tank was leaking. This time we waited one long hour for the mechanic to arrive and fix the problem. Scarcity of petrol in this part of the world could be fatal.
Reaching Udaipur is easy, that’s the simplest part of this trip. Udaipur is approximately 56 km from Keylong, although the milestones say something else. And how can I forget the legendary Tandi Bridge. I love that place. Stopping there is a ritual for me. The divine confluence of river Chandra and Bhaga against the backdrop of mystic peaks is blissful. The village that appears in the picture is the native place of my dear friend, Naveen Boktapa, the man who crossed the Rohtang on foot; twice.
When I started my journeys way back in 2009, one of the motives was to meet people. We were welcomed in Udaipur by beautiful landscape and two hardworking photographers. Rajesh Baba, a farmer by profession and a photographer by heart and soul. He worked as a porter in early years of his life and soon he realized that photography is something his hands and eyes can deal very well with. An example of his passion is uphill climb of two kilometers at 75 degree gradient just to get a better view of Udaipur village in winters.
Shiv Kumar, a forest guard and an ardent photographer. his limited resources never shake his confidence and determination to work hard. When we met them, they were coming back from a jungle expedition trying to photograph a Himalayan brown bear. Not to my surprise, they were not carrying any protection or arms, total desi style expedition it was. For three days consecutively, they had been starting early morning at 5, spending whole day in the jungle, just to get one glimpse of the bear. If that is not passion then I do not know what is. That was end of the Day 2 of the journey. The second day was calm and soothing for our eyes, bones, and asses.
The temple dates back to the Seventh Century. Buddhists and Hindus equally revere this place. “Mahishasu Mardini Mata” (महिषासुर मर्दिनी) is the Hindu name of the goddess whereas Buddhists call it “Dorzefamo”(दोर्जेफामो). They don’t allow you to take photographs inside the “Garbh-Griha” of the temple. The wooden architecture of the temple is the best wooden artistic work I have ever seen.
The Miyar Nalla originates from a village near Udaipur. Than-Pattan, Khanjar, and Tingret are some of the places one must visit to enjoy heavenly beauty of the Lahoul Valley. We could not go there because of the poor condition of our motorbike. The famous Kangna-Zanskar Trek also starts from one of the above mentioned villages. The Kali-Cho Jot is visible from Udaipur. For the sake of information, the Kali-Cho trek is arguably the toughest trek route in Hiamchal Pradesh.
The fourth day was totally insane. We dragged 180kg machine on the second day. We had to lift the 180kg machine on the fourth day.
That’s what we did on the fourth day
Everyone knows how to reach Udaipur so let us skip the distance traveled and the route description as well.